Pranlukast Antagonizes CD49f and Reduces Sternness in Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Cells

Ines Velazquez-Quesada, Angel J. Ruiz-Moreno, Diana Casique-Aguirre, Charmina Aguirre-Alvarado, Fabiola Cortes-Mendoza, Marisol de la Fuente-Granada, Carlos Garcia-Perez, Sonia M. Perez-Tapia, Aliesha Gonzalez-Arenas, Aldo Segura-Cabrera, Marco A. Velasco-Velazquez*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Introduction: Cancer stem cells (CSCs) drive the initiation, maintenance, and therapy response of breast tumors. CD49f is expressed in breast CSCs and functions in the maintenance of stemness. Thus, blockade of CD49f is a potential therapeutic approach for targeting breast CSCs. In the present study, we aimed to repurpose drugs as CD49f antagonists. Materials and Methods: We performed consensus molecular docking using a subdomain of CD49f that is critical for heterodimerization and a collection of pharmochemicals clini-cally tested. Molecular dynamics simulations were employed to further characterize drug-target binding. Using MDA-MB-231 cells, we evaluated the effects of potential CD49f antagonists on 1) cell adhesion to laminin; 2) mammosphere formation; and 3) cell viability. We analyzed the effects of the drug with better CSC-selectivity on the activation of CD49f-downstream signaling by Western blot (WB) and co-immunoprecipitation. Expressions of the stem cell markers CD44 and SOX2 were analyzed by flow cytometry and WB, respectively. Transactivation of SOX2 promoter was evaluated by luciferase reporter assays. Changes in the number of CSCs were assessed by limiting-dilution xenotransplantation. Results: Pranlukast, a drug used to treat asthma, bound to CD49f in silico and inhibited the adhesion of CD49f+ MDA-MB-231 cells to laminin, indicating that it antagonizes CD49f-containing integrins. Molecular dynamics analysis showed that pranlukast binding induces con-formational changes in CD49f that affect its interaction with β1-integrin subunit and constrained the conformational dynamics of the heterodimer. Pranlukast decreased the clonogenicity of breast cancer cells on mammosphere formation assay but had no impact on the viability of bulk tumor cells. Brief exposure of MDA-MB-231 cells to pranlukast altered CD49f-dependent signaling, reducing focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) activation. Further, pranlukast-treated cells showed decreased CD44 and SOX2 expression, SOX2 promoter transacti-vation, and in vivo tumorigenicity, supporting that this drug reduces the frequency of CSC. Conclusion: Our results support the function of pranlukast as a CD49f antagonist that reduces the CSC population in triple-negative breast cancer cells. The pharmacokinetics and toxicology of this drug have already been established, rendering a potential adjuvant therapy for breast cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1799-1811
Number of pages13
JournalDrug Design, Development and Therapy
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • CD49f
  • alpha6 integrin
  • breast cancer stem cells
  • pranlukast
  • drug repositioning
  • triple-negative breast cancer cells
  • ALPHA 6 BETA-1

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